Langscaping the Novel and the Presencing of Place in Literature -with a Few Examples from Harold Sonny Ladoo's No Pain Like This Body

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies



This paper proposes to trace how a local language is developed in interaction with the physical and historical features of a landscape and how literature, accordingly, is laden with the natural and cultural symptomologies of its locality.

The paper takes its point of departure in an analysis of Ladoo's No Pain Like This Body (about indentured labourers in Trinidad). It looks at how the language of the novel's landscape, or, rather, its langscape is endowed with sounds and sensory energies that are intricately evocative of the topography, flora, fauna and climate of the novel's setting, altogether producing a comprehensive, synaesthetic sense-scape that combines "place-bound" imagescapes with soundscapes, smellscapes, colourscapes, heatscapes, speedscapes, etc. In this respect I propose to read the drama of Ladoo's langscape in terms of Gumbrecht's aesthetics of presence, i.e. how the impact of present objects on human bodies can be intensified in literature. Added to that I shall engage Deleuze's ideas of how literature, as a production of compounds of sensation, suspends the representational dimension of language, causing words no longer to stand for e.g. a landscape, but to become the very sense-effects of that landscape.

Ladoo's language is a composite hybridisation of English with Indian, African and Creole substratas. Such hybridisation is often read as a promise of a global transcultural heterogeneity. However, I intend to bracket any reading of the novel or its setting in the optics of world literature and celebratory internationalism. I will insist on how the novel's language is subject to a gravitational pull towards its locality. Ladoo takes part in a process of developing a local language that is particularly attuned to enunciate the combined natural, cultural and historical processes of its particular place. In this respect, I will finally argue that the work, through its langscape, performs the very processes of local emplacement that Edward Casey speaks of. Its langscape makes sense in two ways: at once shaped by and shaping the physiognomy of its place, it both generates local sense-experiences and makes sense of the place to render it inhabitable.

Emneord: Postcolonialism, place, sense, literature
Period5. Jul 2009
Event titleAmerican Tropics. Towards a Literary Geography
Event typeConference
OrganiserDepartment of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies
LocationUniversity of Essex, United KingdomShow on map


  • Postcolonialism, place, sense, literature